Trends in Miniaturization of Functional Organ Replacements

A dialysis machine, intended to replace the function of damaged kidneys, might weigh 55kg. Researchers now have that down to 5kg in a wearable form, a machine which does a better job to boot. Looking ahead, we'd expect even more effective implants or bracelets worn over surface veins in the 2020s - essentially viable artificial replacements for the function of an organ. This is an important trend to watch, as I believe it will ultimately contribute to enhanced longevity just as greatly as regenerative medicine: "Our vision of a technological breakthrough has materialized in the form of a Wearable Artificial Kidney, which provides continuous dialysis 24 hours a day, seven days a week ... The device - essentially a miniaturized dialysis machine, worn as a belt - weighs about 10 pounds and is powered by two nine-volt batteries. Because patients don't need to be hooked up to a full-size dialysis machine, they are free to walk, work, or sleep while undergoing continuous, gentle dialysis that more closely approximates normal kidney function. ... We believe that the Wearable Artificial Kidney will not only reduce the mortality and misery of dialysis patients, but will also result in significant reduction in the cost of providing viable health care."

Link: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090820175853.htm

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